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Smartphone Apps May Help with Coronavirus Tracing, But May Cause Privacy Concerns

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Iphone 6s Plus with Icons | Smartphone Apps May Help with Coronavirus Tracing, But May Cause Privacy Concerns | Featured

Many people are starting to bet that smartphone apps will be the way to help restrict the coronavirus pandemic. However, there may be some “uncomfortable trade-offs between protecting privacy and public health,” reported Fox Business.

“There are conflicting interests,” said Tina White, a Stanford University researcher. White first introduced a privacy-protecting approach in February.

“Governments and public health (agencies) want to be able to track people” to help control virus spread, she said. However, people are less likely to download an app if it invades privacy.

Fox Business explains that containing outbreaks boils down to this mantra: test, trace, and isolate. “Today, that means identifying people who test positive for the novel coronavirus, tracking down others they might have infected, and preventing further spread by quarantining everyone who might be contagious,” said the report.

Smartphone could help make contact tracing easier and faster by collecting data about one’s movements. It also helps by alerting someone of he or she has spent time near a confirmed virus carrier. However, private sectors can abuse data collected by governments.

Tech giants Apple and Google are developing a competing approach. It “limits the information collected and anonymizes what it pulls in,” said Fox Business. This means personal tracking won’t be available.

These companies say that apps built to their specifications will work across most devices. They have also “forbidden governments to make their apps compulsory and are building in privacy protections to keep stored data out of government and corporate hands and ease concerns about surveillance,” reported Fox Business.

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